Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John W. Wiggins, Jr. to Walt Whitman, 24 March 1888

Date: March 24, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: har.00038

Source: Manuscripts Department, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "Autograph of Whitman— (see over) [CE?]," is in an unknown hand.

Related item: Whitman used the verso of this letter from John W. Wiggins, Jr. to draft a title page and notes relating to the title of his annex to Leaves of Grass, which was entitled "Sands at Seventy."

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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Brooklyn N.Y.
March 24/88

Dear Mr Whitman

My father and other members of the "Society of Old Brooklynites"1 are anxious to receive a line, or to ask from you, to read at their annual dinner on the 9th prox. and have requested me to write to you, and beg the favor.2 I am afraid from what I have noticed in the papers, that you have not been in good health of late, but I trust that you are now strong again, and able to give the old friends of your youth a line from your gifted pen, on this, as well as many future annual reunions.

With sincere regards
Very Respectfully Yours
John W. Wiggins Jr.

John Ward Wiggins, Jr. (1846–?) was on the Board of Directors of the Society of Old Brooklynites; he was descended from one of the oldest families on Long Island and worked for the Niagara Fire Insurance Company of New York. He served on the Board of Education of Brooklyn and was active in the Free Masons. (See Henry Whittemore, Free Masonry in North America from the Colonial Period to the Beginning of the Present Century [New York, Artotype Printing and Publishing, 1889], 189–190).


1. Whitman had been elected to the Society of Old Brooklynites in 1880 (the year the organization was founded); he told Horace Traubel: "I submitted to it as to a necessary courtesy—that was all" (Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, June 23, 1888). [back]

2. This was the second letter Whitman had received from the "Society of Old Brooklynites," requesting him to speak at the Society's Annual Banquet. See the March 2, 1888, letter from Judah B. Voorhees to Whitman. [back]


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